Mindfulness is a practice that can create improved health and wellness outcomes in older adults.
The world’s senior population is rapidly growing, which is why the issues regarding their health and well-being are becoming much more important. The World Health Organization points out that the world’s senior population will rise from 12% to 22% by 2050. This demographic is more prone to chronic diseases due to the effects of aging. Additionally, they will likely experience a decrease in physical and mental capacity stemming from social isolation should their friends or partners pass away.
Recognizing these health and social issues, senior citizens must tap into different strategies to improve their quality of life. One of the recommended strategies is mindfulness and here’s why:
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness for Older Adults?
Decreased Cognitive Decline
Due to age-related cognitive changes, about 6.2 million senior citizens in America struggle with Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, you can combat Alzheimer’s through early detection and preventive practices. A daily 12-minute session of meditation or yoga has been proven effective at improving memory and cognitive function. With regular meditation practice, you can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia. You can also enjoy improved focus and memory.
Reduced Risk Against Chronic Illnesses
Besides slowing down the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia, mindfulness training can also reduce one’s risk for multiple chronic illnesses. In fact, individuals who practiced yoga regularly were found to have lower blood pressure compared to their counterparts. This significantly lowers one's risk of cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, meditation was also discovered to help in diabetes management because it decreases the stress that can affect one’s weight, glycaemic control, and blood pressure control.
Improved Mental Well-being
Mindfulness practices are known to be very effective in improving mental wellness. A study on older adults’ perspectives on mindfulness revealed that senior citizens experienced positive mental and emotional changes after doing mindful movement, mindful walking, and sitting meditation activities. The participants even stated that they felt less anger, tension, and frustration. Moreover, other participants felt more confident since they developed more discipline, self-encouragement, and determination from mindfulness practices.
Enhanced Social Connections
On top of all these health benefits, regular practitioners of mindfulness also experience improvements in their social connections. Since mindfulness practices make individuals feel more calm and relaxed, practitioners reported feeling more understanding towards others. Moreover, mindfulness encourages individuals to appreciate the present moment, so older adults become more alert and grateful during social interactions.
Important Reminder Regarding Health and Wellness
Mindfulness is a practice that can create improved health and wellness outcomes. However, it should not be singled out as a sole solution for health concerns or mental well-being. While mindfulness is proven to be effective, you must consult with a healthcare professional for more serious conditions. If you’re concerned about your mental health or stress levels, you can approach psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners with DNP credentials. These professionals are trained to provide holistic mental healthcare for patients of all ages, so they can recommend comprehensive and effective solutions for your specific concerns. On the other hand, you can work with a physician specializing in geriatric psychiatry if you’re struggling with the psychiatric effects of physical illnesses or the aging process. These psychiatrists are licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders in the elderly, so they can help you achieve a better quality of life. It's important to follow the recommendations of these healthcare professionals to complement your mindfulness practices for better health outcomes.
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Mindfulness is a great practice that can provide physical, emotional, and social benefits. Older adults can improve their quality of life by practicing mindfulness. However, this should never replace health recommendations from qualified healthcare professionals.